When to Smoke a Fine Cigar

Not all of us can be Winston Churchill. The great English statesman smoked over a dozen of the finest cigars available every day. For Sir Winston, the right time to smoke a great cigar was every hour! Unfortunately, the rest of us do not have deep enough pockets to be able to smoke great cigars all the time.

When you get the chance to smoke a great cigar, you need to cherish it. A great cigar can really be a memorable experience and you need to do your best to enrich that experience.

First off, you need to be around people who enjoy cigars as much as you do. Having the right company around you (family, friends, cigar buddies, etc.) will make all the difference. There won’t be anyone around to nag you about the foul odor emanating from your robusto. With the right people you can actually talk about the cigar and just enjoy yourselves for a while.

If you can’t scrounge up some cigar smokers you should smoke a great cigar by yourself. Now, I’m not talking about hiding from others who don’t smoke all the time. In fact, for the vast majority of cigars, if the people you are around don’t mind the smell then smoke in their presence. Cigar smoking is a social thing. But not when it comes to one of the best cigars you have ever smoked.

Even though those around you don’t mind you smoking a $30 Montecristo they don’t understand it either. These people, bless their hearts, just won’t be able to talk with you about your Montecristo. They aren’t trying to ruin your great experience but they cannot add anything to it either. Just find a time when you have a couple hours to yourself and smoke your stogie.

Another good tip about when to smoke a fine cigar is to try to do it when the weather is nice and it’s a special day. For example, this last Fourth of July I smoked an absolutely wonderful God of Fire robusto by Don Carlos (made by the Fuentes). It was an amazing experience smoking such a spicy bombshell of a cigar and watching the bombs bursting in air. On top of all that the weather was perfect. It was 10pm and the temperature was still warm.

The time of day also plays a big role for me. Personally speaking, I like to smoke cigars at night. The stresses of the day have passed and everything is calmer. And, since I live in Southern California, the temperature outside is usually fine (like many of you, I cannot smoke inside the house). Even though I like smoking at night many in Latin America will smoke during the afternoon. Others like to have a nice cigar to start their day off. Figure out which time is best for you and stick to that when smoking a great cigar.

My last bit of general advice is to smoke a truly great cigar only when you are happy. If the boss ripped you a new one earlier today or the wife is still nagging you about the yard it doesn’t make sense to smoke a great cigar. Being in the wrong frame of mind will take even the best cigar and make it ordinary.

There are the basics according to me. Just remember this one thing: A great cigar needs proper respect. Show it some respect and it will reward you.

Graycliff 1666 Presidente – Cigar Review

Very dark cigar; it is long and on the thinner side. When I first started smoking Graycliffs I had very high expectations. Unfortunately, they never seemed able to live up to the hype. So I’m not expecting that much from this cigar – just a well balanced smoke that is enjoyable.

This cigar smells awesome before I lit it. The color is odd though; it looks spotty. There are dark patches all over the cigar. I doubt that this will adversely affect the flavors of the cigar but thought you should know. Besides the discoloration of the wrapper there is a little triangle of tobacco leaf missing. Points off for that stuff.

Ze Light!

Alright, it is a very good cigar. The flavors are not blowing my mind at all but what is there is perfectly balanced. There is a harmoniousness to this cigar.

The predominant flavor for this cigar is sweetness. Not sickeningly sweet but it’s there. The draw is good and so is the burn. It’s an interesting cigar and I hope it stays that way.

About halfway down, it went out. It really is a shame because I was really enjoying this cigar. After I finally got it re-lit it burned hot for a while (which is to be expected) but quickly got back to the way it was.

Even though I personally enjoy full-bodied, spicy cigars the most I really was enjoying this medium-bodied, sweet cigar. I was going to give it an 89 or even a 90 but then it went out. And it’s not like I even left it untended. It just went out. Still, I can’t knock the score down too far because the flavors were good.

86 points

How to Rate a Cigar

First off, let me get something out of the way. There is no set in stone way to judge a cigar. For the vast majority of people a cigar will fall into about five broad categories: perfect, excellent, good, fair, and poor. But even within those categories there can be a world’s worth of difference.

That is why I like scoring cigars with an 100 point scale. It is the complexity of cigars that compels me to score cigars with an 100 point scale and the fact that Cigar Aficionado scores cigars with an 100 point scale kind of forces me into this as well. To be perfectly honest, I understand why someone wouldn’t like this system. However, I like categorizing and scoring things so I personally love the 100 point scale.

Now down to the nitty gritty. Cigar Aficionado rates cigars (here’s their video) using four different categories and they are: appearance/structure (15 points), smoking characteristics (25), flavor (25), and overall impression (35). As you can tell there is a lot of wiggle room within this rubric with over a third of the points going to “overall impression,” whatever the hell that is.

I personally use a much more trimmed down version of this system. I look for all of these categories but I do not assign a point value to each category. While I smoke a cigar I keep a running tally in my head of what the overall score should be. In the past I have tried scoring cigars while being faithful to the Cigar Aficionado rubric but it’s just too much and it does take away from my personal enjoyment of the cigar. That’s why I have this sliding scale in my head that continuously is rating a cigar.

Scoring cigars is not an easy task since each person’s idea of a great cigar is different. Some people like coffee and nut flavors while others will enjoy red pepper flakes and steak (I’m in the latter group). But you need to try to be as fair as possible. If a cigar is excellent, it is an excellent cigar.

Now onto the points.

96-100: A Perfect Cigar

This is a cigar that has a perfect draw, burns perfectly, is perfectly constructed, has some kick to it, has a good amount of flavors that work perfectly together, tons of smoke, isn’t harsh at all, and, basically, is just perfect. This is the type of cigar you are willing to pay way over MSRP for.

90-95: An Excellent Cigar

It has most everything from the Perfect Cigar category but is lacking in a couple of areas. Maybe the flavors weren’t as explosive as they could have been or it didn’t burn evenly the whole way through. There was just something missing from it and even though you would be willing to pay a little extra for one of these cigars you won’t be taking money away from the kid’s college fund to do so.

85-89: A Good Cigar

These are “everyday cigars” for most of us. They will have some problems with them; less flavors, burns a little hot sometimes, the draw is spotty, construction isn’t great, and maybe some other issues. It should still be an enjoyable cigar and it definitely should be a cigar you would want to smoke again but it is missing something that prevents it from being a 90+ cigar.

80-84: A Fair Cigar

There will be a number of problems with this cigar and unless you are thinking some aging will make this cigar much better you will probably want to avoid these cigars unless they are cheap. A fair cigar will have all the same problems a good cigar has but amplified. So there will be a tougher draw, even less flavors, really poor burning, and these cigars may even be a bit offensive to your palate.

79 and below: A Poor Cigar

You will immediately know when you are smoking one of these cigars because there is a pretty good chance one of these cigars won’t even light. If by some miracle you are able to pull any smoke through the stick you will be punished with extremely offensive flavors. These cigars burn harsh from foot to nub and you will probably find yourself throwing one of these cigars away in a couple of minutes. These are just horrible things and you should avoid them if at all possible.

A couple notes of warning before you go. Firstly, there is no way your score will always match up with other people’s scores. Secondly, there are always bad cigars in any line of cigars. Just because one Arturo Fuente Churchill was a bad cigar doesn’t mean they all are bad (they are mostly usually good to great). Thirdly, to be completely impartial you should rate cigars in a blind tasting. I don’t personally take this advice because, well, I do not have a guy to buy me cigars and set up a blind tasting like they do at Cigar Aficionado. Just try to be fair. And lastly, if rating cigars is no fun for you, don’t do it. Enjoying cigars is the most important thing, rating them is not.

I hope this helped you out a little bit. And do not feel obligated to use this rubric either. Make up your own. Use a letter grade or a five point scale. Whatever helps you learn more about cigars and helps you develop your palate better is what you should be doing. Personally, I have found that rating cigars has helped increase my enjoyment of them. Try rating a couple of cigars and see what happens.