Cigar Aficionado

End of a Tasting

There’s always a collective relief here when we finish up a tasting for one of our upcoming issues. I know most of you don’t understand this, but when you have to smoke for a living, it detracts from the great pleasure one normally gets from a cigar. I usually have a little ritual that I follow after I’ve finished up a tasting to offset some of the obligation we all feel here when we are involved in a tasting.

First of all, there is a short period after the tasting is over when we examine the scores. If there are huge discrepancies between tasters, I'll assign a cigar to be resmoked, sometimes even by two people, just to get a more accurate take on the cigar. As I’ve said many times, tastings are subjective exercises, and some days you just wake up and everything tastes funny. That’s why we do try to be fair to cigars and re-taste them if there are any serious discrepancies. You can be pretty certain that the cigars at the bottom range of a tasting, and at the top end, have all been re-tasted to be sure that the results are in harmony.

But that takes time. We manage our tastings so that there is rarely a break of more than three or four days between the end of one tasting, and the beginning of the next one. We try to get the tastings done a week before production starts, so we have time to do the re-tastes, and then produce the notes and averaged scores for publication. That means it pretty much is a never-ending routine of smoking and evaluating.

I do give myself at least one full day to engage in my special ritual. I always have a cigar set aside that I really want to smoke. Sometimes, it’s a contribution for an upcoming Connoisseur’s Corner, or sometimes it’s just one of my favorites from my home humidor. I wait until after the lunch hour and then I light up the cigar. There are no tasting sheets around (unless it’s a Connoisseur’s Corner cigar), and I don’t worry about how many cigars remain in my humidor to be smoked. There’s no worry about wondering if I have to smoke three or four more cigars that day, and I’m not evaluating the cigar for every minute distinction it might have.

I savor every puff, and smoke it just as if I was on the back patio at home, relaxing and enjoying the cigar for all that’s it worth. If you’re a cigar lover, that’s the moment you should be envying. And, it is true, I get to do that as part of my job.