Taste Test

Taste Test

Taste is a very subjective thing.


That applies to both taste in terms of style and what you surround yourself with as much as to the actual physical sensation of tasting food and drink.


One man’s rubbish is another man’s gold, as someone or other once said. And it’s true. You might raise a cultured eyebrow at the chap who wears his jeans halfway down his legs so that the world can see his underpants; but the point it, he thinks he looks great.


So, try not to be too disparaging when talking about cigars you don’t like. Unless they’re patently badly made; underfilled, overfilled, impossible to draw, have a dyed wrapper or stalks and veins shoved into the filler; you should exercise restraint when giving your opinion. Remember, one man’s rubbish is another man’s gold.


It’s fair enough to admit you didn’t like it. And it’s fair enough to say why. It’s how you say it that counts.


Taste, we think evolves. We aren’t born craving the yeasty, creamy goodness of Guinness or the pungent, hedonistic nasal tang of goats’ cheese; but we sure learn to love them along the way.


These, and a million other flavour sensations wax and wane throughout our lifetime. As one gets older and the palate more educated, subtler and deeper flavours are appreciated. You may find that you enjoy hotter, spicier foods than you ever used to.


And the same must apply to cigars. If your Father or Grandfather liked to smoke cigars, chances are they had a favourite brand and rarely strayed outside it. Times have changed. Variety is available to us. And as human beings, it’s in our nature to taste.


Young cigarophiles these days smoke different cigars every day of the week. Cuban, New World, blends from Mexico, Panama, Honduras, Brazil; the palette available to the dedicated cigar blender is huge.


As we’ve said before on these pages, it’s good to broaden your horizon. How can you speak with authority if you don’t know what you’re talking about? And how can your ‘palate memory’ frame references and nuances to differing flavours if they are only subjected to the same ones, week in, week out?


Take time to consider your cigar when you smoke it. What are the sensations you’re feeling? How does the smoke feel in your mouth, both while it’s physically in there and also when it’s no longer present? Try to clear your mind and let it pop up with thoughts and suggestions without being nudged in any particular direction. This is one of the most difficult aspects of ‘tasting’ anything. It’s hard to ensure you don’t pre-judge.


If you practise this a little each week, you’ll be amazed at the development of your palate and mental reference library of flavours, tastes and similarities. It’s a trick that supertasters use; wine, tea and coffee buyers also utilise it; and it makes creating tasting notes a breeze.


Just don’t go over the top. We read a cigar tasting note the other day that described Graham crackers, rum-soaked raisins, wet pine woods and lightly smoked hickory. Lord above – it’s only a cigar when all’s said and done. It’s made up of dried leaves, not eye of newt and toe of frog.

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