Out Of The Humidor

| From Maggie Siff, July/August 2017

Dear Marvin,

From the first time I watched “Shark Tank,” Daymond John [“A Shark with Style,” June 2017] impressed me both with his business acumen and his personality. If I were ever on the show, convincing him to make a deal would be my ultimate goal. 

Since that scenario is extremely unlikely, instead I’ll just hope he soon achieves his own goal of experiencing a well-deserved Cuban Cohiba.

Rich Foley

Fayette, Ohio

Dear Marvin,

I’m certainly glad that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger got back on the cover of Cigar Aficionado [“You’re Fired,” February 2017]. We missed him. Too bad he wasn’t born in America. I think he would have made a great president of the U.S.A.

A recent editorial from The New York Times doesn’t give President Trump high marks toward his relationship with Cuba. I hope as time goes on that will change.

I’m 72 years old, and to my best recollection I have only smoked two Cubans so far. President Trump may be killing my dream. There’s a saying that any guy over 50 years dreams of driving a Porsche and smoking a Cuban cigar.

About one year ago my wife and I went to the Dominican Republic. While staying at the hotel one night my wife had a meeting and I took a walk to the main entrance of the hotel and their pool tables. All was going great and got even better when the perfumed aroma of a cigar came across the room. A fella shooting pool at another table had lit up a cigar. Wow! Later I went over and spoke with him. Even after all this time, the event—and the aroma—still linger in my memory.

Every Cigar Aficionado is a gem. Keep up the great work.

Bob Blauvelt 

Rockland County, New York

Editors’ Response: Here’s to happy dreams of driving a Porsche and smoking a Cuban cigar. Remember: a fine cigar is one of life’s truly affordable luxuries. As to the Cuban plans of President Trump, it’s far too early to judge how this new administration will look at U.S.-Cuba relations.

Dear Marvin,

I’m an avid reader of your magazine but I also belong to a few cigar groups on various social media platforms. I often see comments in these groups that debunk the Cigar Aficionado ratings as nothing more than a gimmick and shouldn’t be taken as any real endorsement or rating of the cigars sampled.

Obviously taste and experience are subjective and we all have different likes and dislikes—for me personally I use the ratings to give me a general idea of what to look out for. The gist of these negative comments is not the ratings themselves, but that you only rate cigars (and rate highly) for producers/brands that you either have a connection with (for example those that advertise with you) or those that you have some other vested interest in keeping sweet, to coin a British term.

I’ve never seen any evidence of this myself and have regularly responded to comments such as these rebutting that theory. However I often get shouted down. It’s OK. I’m a big boy and can handle it.

Can you please put to rest once and for all these supercilious comments by explaining the procedures you use to select the products you sample?

All the best from the other side of the pond.

John Papanicolaou

Brighton, England

Editors’ Response: Our ratings have great impact upon the cigar industry, and we take them quite seriously. We choose the cigars we rate not based upon advertising but by market presence. We aim to provide our readers with a buying guide to the cigar market, and aim to review cigars that a reader would find when shopping in a cigar store. For that reason, we rate cigars with broad distribution, and avoid those that have little distribution. That’s one reason why you won’t find private-label cigars in our ratings, cigars that are made for one shop, or one small chain of shops. 

We’ve said it over and over, but it bears repeating: our ratings are conducted blind, meaning the tasters do not know the brand, price, country of origin or any other detail about the cigar when they rate it. In addition, the tastings are managed by our tasting coordinator—who is not a member of the tasting panel, because he knows the code. He buys the cigars we taste at retail shops. 

We rate cigars from companies that advertise, as well as companies that do not advertise, and we give high and low ratings to both. The evidence is clear to see for those, like you, who do their research on the subject. Perhaps the most obvious evidence would be our ratings of Cuban cigars, which have never been able to advertise in our pages due to the longstanding U.S. Embargo on Cuba. Cuban cigars have rated highly over the years, and three Cuban cigars have been named Cigar of the Year, our highest accolade. 

This is our 25th year of publishing Cigar Aficionado and reviewing cigars, and we have never compromised our values. Our ratings cannot be influenced by advertising, and they never will.

Dear Marvin,

I love your publication and read it cover to cover. I especially love seeing all the cool photos of people enjoying cigars. I love cigars (I have four humidors myself), and love your publication and what you guys are doing for the industry. 

Keep up the good work! 

Jason Valchine

Chelsea, Michigan