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Written by Paul

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

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Tags:
flavors and aromastobacco faqs
I'm titling this article "Things I Can't Taste".  I've always wanted to write it but never seem to have gotten around to it.  It's interesting having smoked cigars for a long time and being exposed to cigars from all over the world that I still seem to be completely inept in my ability to taste all those funky flavors the professionals find in a cigar.

Now you may think I'm picking on a specific magazine, but honest I'm not.  I'm really focusing on my inability to educate my palate in the worldly ways of those people that can actually relate to the ads for $50,000 watches, and half a million dollar cars.  I know, I know, you're reading this and you're saying to yourself, "What a complete moron this guy is, he can't even taste Aruban honey nectar in those Hemingway Short Stories".  I admit it, I'm honey nectar challenged.

So consider this the first step in my 12 step program, where I announce that "my name is Paul, and I have a palate problem."

I made the mistake of saving many of my back issues of that magazine that has four or five pages dedicated to cigars, and 15 to 20 pages dedicated to ads for that power broker watch that's only available on Madison Avenue in New York.  I decided to look through some of them and see if perhaps they could shed some light on the challenged palate that I am trying to come to grips with.

As I was combing through an old issue, December of 2006 to be exact, I found some interesting information.  For example, did you know that in the Quintessa Corona, those with a professional palate can taste "overly sweet fruitcake characters"?  I guess that sheds some light on my first mistake, I've never taken the chance and eaten any of those Christmas fruitcakes I've been given.  I guess I'll be more appreciative next year when that seven pound fruitcake shows up at the front door.

And just to send me deeper into depression, a cigar I've smoked many of, and have come to truly enjoy, the Graycliff Chateau Grand Cru President, seems to present some flavors that I have again missed completely.  It seems this 7" x 48 ring gauge cigar is not only smooth, creamy and delicious, but it has notes of "granola, leather, earth and spice".  Now isn't that an interesting mixture?  I can say that I've eaten a granola bar on a leather couch while residing on earth and wearing old spice, but that just didn't do enough to train my palate to be able to discern these flavors in a cigar.  I briefly thought about throwing some dirt, spices, old leather shoes, and whole grain oats in a blender, just to blend them up and have a taste.  I had second thoughts though as I was concerned the shoelaces would throw off what I was trying to capture from a flavor perspective.

Leave it to the fine and fertile soils of Nicaragua to be able to produce tastings that include leather, nougat and cherry in the same cigar.  If you're looking for this top notch combination, be sure to check out the Oliva Special S No. 4.  I know I once had a candy bar that claimed to have a creamy nougat center, but I have a feeling that was not what the fine folks at Oliva had in mind when blending the cigar.  I hope they don't run into any trademark infringement with the candy companies.

I further realized my tasting shortcomings when I saw that the Oliveros XL For Men Double Corojo XL/60 had the unique combination of "cedar and apple flavors and a bit of amaretto on the palate".  Damn, that's one heck of an after dinner drink.  Perhaps the tasters enjoyed this cigar after dinner, while they were enjoying their deserts of apple pie and amaretto?  Or then again, perhaps they have that world-renowned, sports car tuned palate that only those professional tasters have.  I almost feel like they're flexing their beach muscle like tasting skills at my puny taste buds.

Lastly, as I turned some of the final pages of that old magazine, I sighed in sadness when I realized in all the Montecristo No. 4's I had smoked I had never tasted that combination of "coffee and sweet wood".  There was a glimmer of hope however; as I could have sworn that I had tasted "bitter wood" in my Monte 4.  Looks like I was close, but no cigar.  I do resolve though to pay closer attention next time I am sampling the different flavors of wood.

At least I can lose myself and turn the pages and check out that $5000 a night resort in Bora Bora, because I'm sure most average cigar smokers can relate to that.



Comments 

 
0 # Hammer to nail...right on!Shervin 2009-01-28 11:26
I applaud you Paul, tell it how it is brother tell it how it is!!!

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0 # fantastic articleArnie 2009-01-28 12:59
Never have I read a review that stated a cigar tasted like "burning tobacco leaves from the Esteli region of Nicaragua" What's up with that?

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0 # agree 100%matt 2009-01-28 15:35
i feel that sometimes those "professionals" are stretching the truth a bit.

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0 # There is hopeBrianUK 2009-01-28 19:48
AT LAST...God bless you brother for trying to save us all from the pretentious hell that is the woody, leathery. cedar, coffee toned, pine coned, fruity, almond, pepper cigar.

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0 # Good ArticleDonG 2009-01-29 01:23
I have a challenged palate as well so I was really glad to read this article. I have smoked cigars for 30 years and I know three things about the taste: " I like", "I don't like", Its just OK".

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0 # MovellFeelin' the love 2009-01-29 01:57
Was smokin' a favorite honduran the other eve and thought about the flavors issue. I like cigars I like because they taste like rich flavorful tobacco. I too am missing the "discerning palate" gene. But I can't justify expensive watches either. Guess I'm doomed to smoke cigars for the flavor of tobacco...

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0 # TasteBob 2009-01-29 02:10
There's two types of cigars for me. The one's that taste good and the one's that don't. I'm with Paul, palate challenged.

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0 # Good articleCedric 2009-01-29 09:24
But I feel bad for those of you who can't taste such subtle differences. I would almost suggest that if you can't pick up pepper, chocolate, almond, leather, coffee, cocoa, mocha, honey, floral notes, dried fruit, etc....you really have no business smoking cigars and should take up NASCAR. This a refined hobby for distinguished men, socially, politically, sexually, etc..Why should those of us with impeccable palates crumble to such mediocrity?

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0 # heyarthur 2009-01-29 23:04
get off NASCAR.

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0 # No Tea?John 2009-01-30 08:24
What a great article! I couldn't agree more about a 'cigar' magazine that devotes the majority of its time to other things. Maybe you can learn from Suckling and just say EVERY Cigar you smoke tastes like TEA!

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0 # Well spokenSteveN 2009-01-30 08:33
Hear Hear! I recall that the author of "The Idiots Guide to Cigars," (whose name escapes me at the moment) said that anyone who says they can taste fruits, nuts, leather or any other flavors in cigar smoke is nothing more than a pretentious twit. Cigars are not fine wine. They taste like cigars. Either good or bad, but always like cigars.

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0 # Agree,,,,Agreee ,,,,,Agreeee!!! RichP 2009-01-30 23:03
I taste smoke!!! Sometimes REAL good smoke....Sometimes Good smoke....Sometimes NOT so good smoke....Life is to short to quibble about these minor things,,,,Just ENJOY!!

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0 # Amen!tufranky 2009-01-31 07:36
My grandfather & another man started Optimo Cigars in Ebor City, Tampa, Fla a long time ago......on some specific brands the man could pick up the cigar and, after it was lit, could tell you where it came from, who's field, etc, etc....well....that was him, but it ain't me....i even grew tobacco and could only tell the difference between a few varieties, but all that stuff about wood, leather, nuts, etc...i just can't taste it. Even my wife tastes cigars better than i do! She said my ability to smell and taste is shot!! Hmmm....probably right. Never the less, occasionally i smell spice, and occasionally think i smell fruit, but like many other folks i suppose, most of the time it's either REAL good, pretty good, or NOT so good. Also, i must admit there are some cigars that indeed smell like the rotting hay in the back of my barn, or the smoke is acrid and sharp. i too have a challenged palate! Good article!!

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0 # Smoke AmnesiaDillholio 2009-01-31 08:07
I don't know if I could honestly detect notes of "fruitcake" in my smoke, but having a smoking buddy seems to help in discerning what I am tasting. It seems when I smoke with a pal & we compare notes on the charicter of the stick, I am pretty good at putting my finger on something broad, like "earthy" or "spicy" but when I am smoking alone & not thinking about it, I honestly could not tell you anything about the smoke I just had other than I liked it.

On the other hand, I honestly could tell you absolutly nothing about the pipe tobacco I smoke, even when given pause by describing it to a friend. All I can tell you is I like it or I don't. So go figure.

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0 # Sometimes a cigar is just a good smoke...Michigan cigarman 2009-01-31 14:12
Good article.

The point that your snooty magazine is trying to get across is a common way to differentiate one cigar from another. Just as your 'challanged palate' differentiates good cigar from bad cigar, or just an ok cigar.

My favorite cigar is always the one I am smoking at the time. I pair cigars with food. How would you do that if you didn't have some kind of subjective rating system? Preferably your OWN system. Like sorting through a bag of cigars a 'buddy' dropped off on your front door. Or how would you make a cigar recommendations to someone that considers you an expert because you have a very large humidor (considering their tastes over your own).

BTW, The rating system of the magazine in question uses the "green" factor. How much "green" the tobacco company laid into the palm of the publisher. So take them with a pound of salt.

Along those lines, however, there are reasons for trying to get the subtleties of smoke which are so enjoyed by cigar smokers. I have a 'challenged palate' as well but I do try to differentiate cigars and categorize them. I do that for reasons of paring with food and drink, my mood, my past smoking experiences, and my current ones.

Would you smoke a candella wrapped cigar with a Guiness Stout and a steak for example? Or have a Perdomo Cuban Perejo before breakfast?

Some things to do with cigars are just preference. Some come from experience. After smoking cigars for about 20 years, I can tell you what I like and dislike. I also have breadth of experience smoking a Perdomo for breakfast.

All that said, I smoke what I like and try new things to add to my bag of tricks as it were.

Variety is the spice of life and cigar smoking is the endless palate from which I draw my spices.

Bottom line, however you sort, segregate or enjoy your cigar is personal preference. Calling it leathery, spicy, whatever is all in the taste of the cigar smoker and should NEVER be relegated to what any one else thinks.

Have a cigar and relax. That's the reason we smoke them after all.

Robin 'Cigarman'

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0 # Power of SuggestionMarvelGoose 2009-02-03 10:12
Having a trained palate is a skill very few have, however; it seems that all of them smoke cigars and write reviews.

I wonder if reading a review does not influence what you think you tasted. Or maybe you volunteered for a review on some blog and now feel stupid if you don't at least act like you tasted something other than tobacco. Expectations are known to flavor subjective opinions.

I, for one, think most of these reviews are boring. It is time for something else.

Scratch and sniff reviews, anyone?

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0 # WorriedBarry 2009-02-03 13:30
For people to criticize and make fun of those who are able to taste various notes on the cigar it does nothing to help further the cigar community.

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0 # Am I...defective in some way?Ian 2009-02-04 09:38
I am obviously also one of the neanderthals...I have been a lover of cigars for 5 years, and all that I have ever tasted was: 1. Sweet. 2. Bitter. 3. Grassy. 4. Hint of chocolate. (One time, one cigar, literally) 5. Salty. 6. Spicy. 7. Tobacco. One through six has happened on very rare occasions...98% of the time, I taste tobacco, and that is all.

Don't get me wrong...I'm not saying these flavors are not there; I simply cannot taste them. Oh well, back to my cave.

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0 # Ragnar 2009-02-05 05:23
I dislike pretentiousness . Men in suits talking about football as if it were stategery, and not just men throwing a ball around, scientists getting all smart about "string-theory". When will the oppression cease?

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0 # Love it!Orca17 2009-02-07 05:11
It's about time someone spoke for the majority of us. My cigars taste like...tobacco. I've never understood "undertones of wood and leather" since I've never eaten either one to know what they taste like (apart from chewing on the laces of my old baseball glove when I was 8). I also can't fathom "creamy" (Cigar International's all-time favorite word when describing cigars). "Spicy" I get - it's a bit like pepper, which shows up in most Pepins and La Flor Dominicanas. "Earthy" - well, I don't want anything that tastes like dirt, thank you.

Whenever I hear these outrageous descriptions of all the subtle and exotic flavors I'm missing in the sticks I enjoy, my mind invariably drifts to a long-forgotten Chrysler television ad in which Ricardo Montalban describes the "rich Corinthian leather" in the Cordoba - and I have a good laugh.

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0 # 2/7/09Joe 2009-02-07 12:24
It boils down to "I like" "I like alot" "OK" and "This cigar makes me spit! Yecchh":cry:

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0 # ehJasonB 2009-02-10 01:07
I truly understand what the message you are getting across, but there is nothing new or groundbreaking about this article. And your statements concerning “the specific magazine” are not giving your article any credibility either. Personally, it’s not my favorite cigar magazine either. I can think of a few others I prefer because of their articles dedicated to the cigar itself. That doesn’t mean I’ll boycott the other one or post an article that appears insightful to others, because it’s not. I myself don't apply to any of the 'good life' articles (watches, fancy cars, etc). Sometimes, I read the entire magazine; sometimes I get bored with it and only read half of it. No one is expected to agree with the ratings, because everyone has a different palette. But NO one can deny at least one time it served as an excellent guide or introduced anyone to a good smoke. I will agree that cigars literally don't taste like leather, or granola, or earth, or nuts, or coffee. Seriously, if you were trying to review a cigar or describe a good cigar or a list of cigars, what "mouthwatering" description would you give it? How long are you going to compel the attention of the reader by saying "good smoke", "bad smoke", "okay smoke"? I will not argue the ones they rate higher are the ones that put more money into ads. However, what does that matter? Most of the cigars that have ads in the specific magazine are actually worth checking out.

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0 # "flavorful" cigarsBurn1Down 2009-02-17 03:59
Good Blog...Never, have i tasted any of these "fine intracacies" of a cigar, and like most of these posts. We know if we have a good smoke, or a bad smoke. Simple as that.
These seem to be marketing ploys by the marketing peeps to lure us to the cigar..whatever.
Yes it is snooty, it's an uppity culture, but for some reason, these "Hints of flavors" are used to make tobacco seem exotic, to keep pace with all the advertising "Allure" that most of the advertisers use for their b.s. products.

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0 # My limited experience opinion....Team FRANKENSTEIN 2009-02-27 11:07
I am a SUPER newbie to cigars......at least good ones.

I rate them as Great-Good-Bad........and Strong-Medium-Mild.

I'm in the middle of trying out my Thompson sampler package......I'll find a forum somewhere where I can discuss with others my findings. I will say that 3 sticks into it...Two have been Good, and one has been Bad. The Chavon was Bad....the Eros, and Belmondo were Good.....

As for the article.......I liked it!

Thanks.

A.......

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